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The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, a world-renowned museum attracting over 2 million visitors annually, renowned for its extensive educational programs, scientific specimens, artifact collections, and permanent exhibitions.
In a groundbreaking initiative, The Field Museum ventured into digital engagement with its first educational gaming app, Specimania. This project aimed to dynamically share the museum's content through an interactive platform, differentiating itself from the traditional website experience.
The Field Museum aimed to revolutionize its engagement with young audiences (ages 2 to 12) through Specimania, an interactive digital platform. The objective was to integrate the museum's scientific expertise into this app without overwhelming the staff, thereby expanding the museum's educational impact beyond its physical confines. The focus was on creating a fun, yet educational experience that would attract young families, showcasing the museum's vast collection in a fresh, interactive format.
Eight Bit Studios, taking inspiration from the interactive and engaging elements of popular games like Pokémon GO, crafted the Specimania app for iOS. This innovative app was designed to captivate players with the rich and diverse collections of The Field Museum, featuring artifacts, animals, fossils, and plants. The Specimania app included:
A Diverse Collection of Cards:
These cards showcased a wide range of artifacts from the museum's extensive collections, each card detailing a unique item and its significance.
For Ages 2-5: Memory Matching Game
Aimed at younger children, this memory matching game was both fun and educational.
Players were challenged to find all pairs within 30 seconds, with each successful match unlocking new Character Cards.
The game was designed to be simple yet engaging, helping young children learn about the museum's artifacts in an enjoyable way.
For Ages 6-12: Trading Card Game
A more complex trading card game was developed for older children.
The game featured a deck of unique characters, each associated with specific artifacts, and included booster cards to enhance the gameplay.
Strategic gameplay elements were incorporated to challenge players and encourage deeper engagement.
Educational content was seamlessly integrated into the game, with fun facts and information provided in various categories such as Anthropology, Botany, Geology, and Zoology, making it a learning experience as well as a game.
Digital Milestone for the Museum: The launch of Specimania represented a significant step for the Field Museum into digital gaming. This project showcased the museum's ability to innovate and engage younger audiences through technology.
Increased Engagement and Educational Value: Specimania achieved its goal of enhancing the museum experience by offering an interactive and educational platform. It was particularly effective in engaging children with the museum's artifacts and exhibits, both within and beyond the physical museum setting.
Positive Reception: The app was positively received for its unique blend of educational content and engaging gameplay. While specific metrics on its reception and usage were not detailed, the initial feedback indicated that it successfully met its objectives as an educational tool.
Ideation and Concept Development
Eight Bit Studios engaged with the Field Museum to conceptualize a new form of interaction with the public around scientific content, leading to the development of an educational gaming app for iOS.
This phase involved selecting artifacts from the museum's collection and conceptualizing a Pokémon-style card game that not only engaged young audiences but also educated them about the museum's extensive collection.
The team prioritized understanding the museum's goals: experimenting with new communication methods, internally testing their ability to deliver such an application, and learning about the process of making it available to the public.
Collaborative Content Creation
Content creation was managed in-house, with museum scientists selecting items and images for inclusion.
An external artist was employed to create friendly and approachable images, suitable for a smartphone format.
Ensured scientific robustness through lively discussions and feedback between scientists and the artist.
Comprehensive Game Development
Eight Bit Studios was responsible for the comprehensive development of the game, from game mechanics and animations to front-end development and subsequent updates.
The project involved collaboration across various teams, where the Field Museum provided the artifacts, images, and textual content, while Eight Bit Studios handled the technical and creative aspects.
The development process spanned over three months, with a focus on creating an aesthetically pleasing and highly functional game that exceeded the expectations of the Field Museum.
Deployment, Reception, and Impact
Upon completion, the application was successfully launched, receiving positive reception and even garnering news coverage.
Eight Bit Studios' involvement went beyond mere technical implementation; they contributed significantly to the project's thought leadership, ensuring the game was not just satisfactory but exceptional.
The game successfully fulfilled its objectives of testing new ways of museum-public interaction, with the final product demonstrating excellent performance and significant technological expertise.